Making tough decisions comes with the territory when you are an elected official.
The Bartholomew County Commissioners faced a Dec. 27 deadline of ordering much-needed new police radios before a price guarantee ran out. The radios with encryption technology would replace 12-year-old radios for which replacement parts would no longer be available at the end of this year.
After exhausting other funding options, including a $316,000 federal Emergency Management Performance Grant that did not materialize, the commissioners did the best they could in protecting the interests of county residents.
The commissioners agreed to use $67,664 from their telecommunications fund to make the first-year payment on a five-year lease-purchase agreement with Motorola Inc., committing to buy 40 radios with encryption technology that normally cost $3,687, and another 65 radios without encryption capabilities that normally $3,022 each — saving taxpayers about $21,000.
The challenge is how to pay for the remaining four years of the lease.
Needed renovations at the Bartholomew County Courthouse and the county highway garage make additional payments from the commissioners unlikely. That leaves the Bartholomew County Council to fund the remaining four years of lease payments — about $270,000 — to finish the job.
The county commissioners took a leap of faith without the remaining funding in place, but it was a leap worth taking in the name of public safety. The radios are a vital tool in the daily job of sheriff’s deputies and jail officers.
Public safety is what council members should keep in mind when discussions arise about the remaining four years of the lease — and make the final commitment.